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Defamation lawsuit dismissed; Charges filed against town will go to court

— A $200,000 defamation lawsuit filed against Lysander Town Councilor Andrew Reeves has been dismissed while a lawsuit against the town of Lysander will continue in court.

On May 17, Donald Power, owner of Jack’s Reef Kennel Dog Protective Agency filed lawsuits suing the town of Lysander for breach of contract and Councilor Andy Reeves for defamation stating Reeves made statements adversely impacting his business.

On Sept. 26, New York State Supreme Court Justice Deborah Karalunas dismissed the defamation claims against Reeves stating, “Even after taking all of the allegations in plaintiff’s complaint as true on this pre-answer motion to dismiss, the defamation cause of action must be dismissed. All of the alleged defamatory statements concern plaintiff’s performance in providing dog protective services to the town, supervision of which is within the scope of a town board member.”

The lawsuit against the town is based on a contract for dog control officer services provided by Power through Jack’s Reef Kennel for the town. The contract was binding from Jan. 1, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2012, but allowed either party to terminate for cause by written notice. In a letter dated Feb. 21, 2012, Lysander officials terminated the contract effective March 31; the stated cause was “based upon, but not necessarily limited to, improper record keeping, improper invoicing for services and improper handling of impounded animals.”

According to court documents, the defendants “contend that they properly terminated the contract because it was void based on Jack Reef’s status as a Type C corporation under New York’s Not-for-Profit Corporation Law. According to the defendants, Section 113 of New York’s Agriculture and Markets Law requires a dog protective agency such as plaintiff to be a Type B Not-for-Profit corporation.”

The judge denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss the first cause of action for breach of contract.

“The parties’ contract allows for termination for cause, and defendant’s purported termination letter cited several alleged breaches of the contract. At this stage of the proceedings, the court cannot rule as a matter of law that the defendants improperly terminated the contract. Defendants are permitted to answer the complaint,” court documents stated.

Power is suing the town for the remaining balance of the $44,748 contract, which equals $34,245.

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